{wasn't this just yesterday?!}

I am visiting a local preschool tomorrow morning {sniff, sniff}. I want Malayna to start in January, and apparently most preschools think this is a strange thing. The director of one of the schools I called told me that they would take her on a "trial basis". Huh? She said that many kids take time to adjust (duh) and that if Malayna were crying too much or not going along with the program they would have to remove her from the class. She basically said that if Malayna had started in September, they would've taken steps to make her feel more secure, but since all the other kids are adjusted by January, she'd just have to suck it up. Doesn't that sound like a great school? Let me sign her up right now! It sounds so nurturing and caring.

The woman must've asked me at least five times if I just moved to the area. She couldn't understand why I didn't already have Malayna in a preschool. Apparently I'm an awful mother for keeping my child home with me these past four years. {Bad mommy! Stop spending time with your child!} To get her ready for school, the woman suggested that I take Malayna to some storytimes at the library and not sit with her - to make her used to being without me. Oh, yes. That makes perfect sense. Sitting five feet away from her at the library is the same as leaving her at preschool. She went on to give me more parenting advice as if I were asking for it. I could not hang up fast enough.

Thankfully, the preschool I'm visiting tomorrow sounds nothing like that one!

I would like to have a list of questions ready when I visit tomorrow. Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the world of people who are stuck in their ways! Clearly the woman you spoke with isn't interested in doing anything that's out of sync with what *she* things is right!

Don't worry, though, I'm sure there are schools out there with January entrance dates - Ellie's school offers just such a class (too bad you live so far away). It's open to kids who've just turned three, though, not four. I guess at our school (and probably most others), Malayna would be in the same boat, starting mid-year in a "regular" class and adjusting to the routine the other kids have already been living for a while.

The first few months at school are difficult for most kids, I think. They're getting used to not being with Mommy or Daddy, and there's a big room full of unfamiliar faces waiting for them. It's not uncommon for teachers to have to "peel" kids off their parents' legs - but they're always reassuring the kids will be OK a few minutes after the adults leave. (I've never had a teacher call me back after I left a crying child at school!) What the woman at the preschool you spoke with was probably trying to say (and not very well!) is that most teachers don't want to start that crying/peeling/anxiety routine all over again in January. Generally, I've found most teachers are good at soothing upset children and refocusing their attention.

That said, Malayna may surprise you and fit in very well, especially when she sees all the other kids going to school and fitting in without fear or tears.

I know you're nervous about all this, but remember you are HELPING Malayna learn to adjust to the "real world" and make friends by sending her to school. One of Dean's teachers told me, "Sending children to preschool is actually harder on the parent than on the kids."

You wanted to know what to ask tomorrow ... here are a few questions:

- How many days a week do four-year-olds attend the school? How about five-year-olds? (Be prepared - it's usually 3-5 days a week at most schools.)

- Is the school accredited? What are the teachers' credentials? (i.e., are they all certified preschool teachers, or mommies who decided to help out?)

- When is tuition due? Is there a payment plan? Is financial aid available?

- What are the school's safety procedures? Are the doors locked from the inside at all times during regular school hours? (To keep out predators ... ) Do they do regular fire drills? Are there sprinklers installed in the building? (I saw one school that was in a split-level house - with no way out of second-floor "classrooms" other than down the stairs. VERY dangerous in case of fire!!!)

- What are the age spans for kids in each particular class? (For instance, Ellie's class has kids with birthdays in Sept/Oct/Nov only - that way, they're all at about the same place developmentally. Children with birthdays at other times are grouped accordingly in other classes. So, for instance, even though Joseph, Melissa's son, is basically the same age as Ellie - born in April - he's in a different class. They're only six months apart, but you can clearly see the differences at this age.)

- What "specials" are offered? (i.e., Do they offer gym, music and art classes - with separate teachers for each - regularly? Or is every day just 9-noon with the same teacher, in the same room?)

- Is there a lunch bunch program after school? What percentage of the kids attend? (Yes, I know this may be premature, since you're barely ready to send her to school - but if most kids in her class attend, she's not going to want to be left out. That's the case with Melissa's son - I drive him to school every Wed. and he's always telling me he wishes he could stay for lunch "because everybody else does!")

- What is the procedure for school closings/early dismissals because of poor weather or other emergencies? Is there a phone chain, or some more reliable way for the school to contact you?

- Are there any camps offered during Christmas break/over the summer? Again, you should find out even if you don't think *you* would want her to go - after a few months making new friends, she may want to stay for these kinds of things and preparing for that in the budget is helpful!

I will stop now before I completely freak you out! Please give me a call if you have questions or just need moral support. I'll even go with you tomorrow if I can swing it. Oh, and if you take Malayna, just be prepared that she probably won't like any place the first time she's there! Good luck - let me know how it goes! (k)

APlanet4Creation said...

K gave you are really complete list. Don't let the preschool push you around. They are dealing (for the most part) people who need child care (hence the "why didn't you enroll her in Sept?"). We started Olivia in the summer time when the preschool wasn't as busy. We wanted her there since we wanted a second opinion about starting her early in Kindergarten. She did the pre-K program. We only had her there 3 mornings (since the afternoons were "less" school oriented). Briana will go there next year in the fall. I think it really helped her in Kindergarten getting the pre-school experience so we are going to have Briana go too. She can't wait for next year! Good luck in finding the right preschool.

Anonymous said...

Two of my three children cried and screamed the first few weeks of preschool. They were both 3 when they started, went 2 mornings a week and did start in September. It was terrible -- but I knew I was doing the right thing for them.

That being said...I do understand what the director was trying to say. There were days when Brian or Emma were okay when we got to school and actually let me start to leave, but if another child came in crying, they would also cry. But by January, I would think that most of the kids have adjusted and would not be affected if Malayna had some "bad" days. They may even try to console her or get her to play.

"IF" she does cry, it will be so much harder for you, but if I can give one piece of advice, it would be to stick w/ your plan. Don't give in to her and take her out. If you sign her up for 2 days, take her on the those 2 days, no matter how upset she is. If you show one ounce of hesitation, she will feed into that and it will become a vicious circle. I literally sat outside Brian's door the first week and cried just listening to him cry. I had to physically hold him down to get him in his carseat. It was awful. But after 2 weeks, he was actually excited to go to school and he knew that I would be back for him.

Hope that helps. As for which school to send her to, go with your gut, you will make the right decision.

Anonymous said...

BTW - your husband looks like a young Patrick Dempsey in this picture....

Anonymous said...

Agreed - the worst thing a parent can do is cave in when a child cries, and I think that goes for just about any decisions we make. Kids have to know we mean what we say and do, and that we'll follow through no matter what. (That theory also teaches them they can rely on us always.)

It's just so hard seeing all those tears on their little faces!

So how did the visit to the school go?! (k)

textile_fetish said...

I was surprised when I learned the preschool was on a school year system. It kicked in at about age three. When kids are 4, it kind of makes sense. They are becoming prepared for school. That said, I'm not putting olivia in school until pre-k (September). At least that's the plan. You'll find out that a lot of preschools/day care centers aren't even open for the summer or they do special programs that cost more. CAMPS!